At the height of Britpop, Menswear seemed to be its ultimate band. They hyped themselves into the press before they even formed, blagging their way into a signing frenzy and £750,000 record deal, promptly becoming the first band ever to play on Top Of The Pops before releasing any music.
‘Daydreamer’ became an instant classic, Pulp loved them and Menswear’s 1995 album ‘Nuisance’ lived up to the hype. But the inevitable backlash saw the band lost in a blizzard of drugs and in-fighting. All the while, singer Johnny Dean was battling undiagnosed mental health issues.
Radically different country-rock second album ‘¡Hay Tiempo!’ was only released in Japan and Menswear ended in 1998. Johnny was able to find calm when he was eventually diagnosed as autistic in 2008. Guitarists Chris Gentry and Simon White now manage Phoenix, The Lemon Twigs and Hudson Mohawke together, while drummer Matt Everitt is the familiar voice of music news on BBC 6 Music.
As Menswear’s brilliant crash-and-burn career is collected in new 4CD boxset ‘The Menswear Collection’ and they share the lost single ‘Wait For The Sun’, Johnny tells NME of the “endemic darkness” at Britpop’s heart and his pride at Menswear’s none-more-punk spirit.
How does it feel to see Menswear’s career collected in a boxset?
Johnny: “Strange, as I wouldn’t have put the words ‘Menswear’ and ‘boxset’ together. But I’m happy about it, because it’ll surprise people how much music we actually recorded. I thought all those demos for ‘¡Hay Tiempo!’ were lost in an attic in Camden somewhere, but London Records had kept them all, even though they belonged to us.”
‘¡Hay Tiempo!’ is finally being released as part of the boxset. How do you feel about the album now?
“It’s a really good record that people should hear, but you can hear how lost we were. We were a punk/indie band, suddenly making five-minute acid-tinged country-rock pieces. It was career suicide. We recorded it up the road from The Charlatans and Tim Burgess said it was like we’d jumped from our first album to our fourth. At the time, I thought that was great, but it’ll lose you not just your record company but a load of fans too.”
How much pressure did you feel once you signed to London Records for £750,000?
“Everything happened far too easily for us. The three songs on our demo are very strong – if I’d been in A&R, I’d have signed us. But that pressure didn’t help us develop. London expected us to be the next Blur straight away, forgetting Blur needed to make ‘Leisure’ before they got to ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’.
You became the first act to ever be on Top Of The Pops before you’d even released any music…
“I’m proud of that, it was such a major moment. We did our first single ‘I’ll Manage Somehow’ and loads of people phoned the BBC to complain, because I threw the mic stand into the audience at the end in my excitement. If anyone reading this has still got it, I’d love to have that stand back.”
What’s your proudest achievement with Menswear?
“Getting away with it. What we did was incredible. We basically walked out of the audience onto the stage and made a go of it. And, for a few years, it worked. Then we tried to get too serious and it fell apart. There’s the warning for young bands: don’t take it too seriously.”
How do you feel about Britpop now?
“All Britpop was, was indie bands – and a lot of them had nothing in common with each other. Matt once accurately said ‘You’re not Britpop until you’ve denied being Britpop’. The term horrified us. Everyone looks at it as this laddish notion of having a beer on your head and watching the football, when one of the few common threads in the bands at the start was going to art school. That quickly mutated into this horrible laddism, where girls were only seen as cool if they behaved like boys – the ladette phenomenon. It was totally out of order, but people didn’t think twice about it then. It was a very white, male scene. Garage, trip-hop, dance music, they all sold far more singles than the guitar bands did. From the beginning, I sensed it was dodgy that the black music being made wasn’t being recognised. There were a lot of problems, but at the same time it was exciting for young kids outside of the major cities and I do get that.
When did it start to go wrong for Menswear?
“Not taking so many drugs would have helped. At 22, I was the oldest when Menswear started – Chris was just 17. I felt responsible for everybody, but I was off my tits most of the time and permanently confused. I was diagnosed with autism 12 years ago, and it didn’t help matters that nobody knew it then. That would have obviously made a massive difference to me then, but I don’t think it would have made any difference to Menswear.
“One of my biggest regrets is that was Matt was forced out after ‘Nuisance’. The wheels fell off very quickly after he left. Matt was always the sensible one, and it was the first sign to the record company that we were beginning to lose it, which I agree with. Matt left due to differences in personality with other band members. ‘Being Brave’ had just gone Top 10 and, in the middle of that, you do whatever you can to keep it going. Looking back, it would have been funny if we’d split up then, as we’d have done what the Manics always said they’d do: make one record and piss off.”
How hard was it to get over the split and try to find normality after such intensity?
“It was massively hard for all of us. By the end, every other band stood as far away from us as possible, because we were out of control and everyone else collectively went, ‘We don’t want to see this happening’. We pissed everyone off with our exuberance. Pulp had been encouraging at the start, but they had their own problems by then, as did so many bands – they fell into the darkness that was endemic to that whole scene. For me, it was a hell of a journey from thinking I was absolutely loopy to finally being diagnosed with autism and getting some kind of closure. For so long, I’d felt I didn’t belong on this planet.”
What made you briefly revive Menswear with a totally new line-up in 2013?
“Oh God! I was manipulated into something I wasn’t comfortable with by people who were being opportunistic. I thought it’d be fun, but it looked weird, as I’m not that same person.”
Could Menswear ever properly reform?
“I can’t see it happening. Everyone else has proper jobs. Simon is great at planning ahead and Chris was incredible at networking, so it’s not a surprise they’re managers. Matt’s job in music news is perfect for him, as he was always the one aiming for the quote that’d end up in big letters. Stuart was a builder before the band, and he now runs a building company, playing trumpet in a brass band. We’re all friends again, we’re all happy in relationships. But that first Menswear album was about sounding like a teenage meltdown. It looks very different doing that in your ’40s.”
Menswear’s new single ‘Wait For The Sun’ from ‘¡Hay Tiempo!’ is out now. ‘Nuisance’ is reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day on October 24. ‘The Menswear Collection’ 4CD boxset is released on October 23.
The post Menswear look back as they share lost single from new box-set: “My proudest achievement? Getting away with it” appeared first on NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COM.
The Streets’ Mike Skinner says he “shouldn’t have played” Bristol’s Colston Hall
The space is named after former slave owner Edward Colston, but is set to be renamed later this year.
Speaking to the Independent, Skinner said he felt “a bit guilty” about performing at the venue. “Massive Attack haven’t been playing there for years,” he said. “At the time, I just thought it was just a name.”
A statue of Colston was recently pulled down by protestors and dumped in Bristol Harbour, which Skinner called a “fantastic moment”. “It was driven as much by white guilt as black power,” he said. “Even Piers Morgan backs it. If he backs it, I’m pretty confident that we’re good to go.”
The musician also commented on the recent Black Lives Matter protests around the world, calling them “incredibly moving”. “It’s easy for me to say, but I don’t think racist people are the problem, even though they are being quite vocal on Twitter,” Skinner added.
“I think racist systems are by orders of magnitude more damaging. I think what’s going on at the moment is people are starting to understand the difference between racist people and racist systems.”
The Streets shared their latest new song ‘Falling Down’ last month (June 23) – the latest track to be taken from their upcoming mixtape, ‘None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive’. The record will be released on July 10 and will feature IDLES, Ms Banks, Greentea Peng and more.
Meanwhile, the group are also one of a number of artists who are set to play the UK’s first drive-in gigs this summer. The Utilita Live From The Drive-In series will see artists including The Streets, Kaiser Chiefs and Dizzee Rascal perform across 12 venues as fans watch on from their cars.
DaBaby show criticised as social distancing measures don’t appear to be enforced
Concert promoters have been criticised after footage from DaBaby’s Fourth Of July show appears to show social distancing measures weren’t enforced.
The star performed at Cosmopolitan Premier Lounge in Decatur, Georgia last night (July 4), despite coronavirus cases in the state rapidly increasing.
Ahead of the show, organiser MyDJDre told TMZ that the venue would only be filled to 40 percent of its usual 4,000-person capacity and there would be a no mask, no entry rule in place, with masks required to stay on for the duration of the event. Attendees would also be required to have a temperature check done and answer health screening questions at the door.
DaBaby was also said to only be allowing three people on stage with him. However, video footage from the event shows a row of people stood at the back of the stage, albeit seemingly at a safe distance from the star (although not from each other).
In the crowd, meanwhile, many fans could be seen with no masks on or masks pulled down onto their chins and not adhering to social distancing measures.
Fans criticised the promoter of the show on social media, calling holding the event “irresponsible”. “I wouldn’t be bragging that “the whole city came out” in the middle of a pandemic,” commented on Instagram user on one of the promoter’s videos.
Another added: “This is so irresponsible. You should be ashamed.”
On Twitter, more fans expressed their concerns over the show. “I absolutely love Dababy and his music but this is such an awful idea,” wrote one fan. “Risking thousands of lives for a silly ass concert is so foolish. Cancel this ridiculousness.”
I absolutely love Dababy and his music but this is such an awful idea. Risking thousands of lives for a silly ass concert is so foolish. Cancel this ridiculousness. @DaBabyDaBaby @da https://t.co/jbJLA0frCJ
— That guy (@ThatGuy4442) July 5, 2020
Another gig is set to take place at the same venue tonight (July 5) with Moneybagg Yo, Blac Youngsta and Lil Marlo.
DaBaby’s show follows country star Chase Rice performing to a huge crowd of unmasked fans in Tennessee last month (June 27). The musician later responded to criticism in an Instagram video, saying: “I understand that there’s a lot of varying opinions, a lot of different opinions on COVID-19, how it works with live music crowds and what all that looks like.”
He told his fans: “My biggest thing is y’all. Y’all are why I get to write songs, why I get to tour the country, why I get to do live shows and sing you songs and you guys sing them back. You guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge, huge priority.”
In the UK, only 13 percent of grassroots venues have said they could reopen with two-metre social distancing rules in place.
Axl Rose says his political tweets come “from a sense of outrage, obligation n’ responsbility”
Axl Rose has defended his politically outspoken tweets in a new post, saying they come “from a sense of outrage, obligation n’ responsibility”.
The Guns N’ Roses frontman has often used his Twitter account to criticise Donald Trump and yesterday (July 4) spoke out against the US Surgeon General.
“My disdain 4 current administration n’ what I perceive as its threat to democracy is no secret,” he tweeted today (July 5). “I’m not all that active w/social media n’ tho I more than appreciate anyone who takes an interest in something I might post I don’t really have an interest in how many followers or retweets etc. I have as my political or social issue posts rn’t about me. They’re about the issues.”
My disdain 4 r current administration n’ what I perceive as it’s threat to r democracy is no secret. I’m not (cont) https://t.co/vXSKO5lVBt
— Axl Rose (@axlrose) July 5, 2020
He continued: “In general my posts in regard to current events, politics or social issues r usually coming from a sense of outrage, obligation n’ responsibility to say something at times when I feel not to is being complicit (as opposed to a desire for attention or self promotion.)
“I’m nobody, just a citizen that like everyone else has my own opinions n’ believes in my heart that ultimately I want what’s best for not just r country but for humanity, wildlife n’ r environment n’ other’s as opposed to right, left or any other wing fascism r at least in this country free to disagree.”
Rose added that some people might consider his tweets “a lewd or immature response or opinion”, but said he would “voice an opinion” when someone in the government or public eye “says or does something that in my view supports or caters to the irresponsibility of this administration or various issues w/government or law enforcement”.
In his tweets yesterday, the musician called US Surgeon General Jerome Adams a “coward” and a “piece of shit” over comments he had made about Fourth of July celebrations. Rose also urged Adams to resign after he said American citizens “had to look at their individual risk” before attending any Independence Day gatherings.
In May, the frontman became embroiled in a Twitter feud with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin after he criticised the government figure for how he handled the impact of coronavirus on the US economy.
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